Global demand for material handling products is forecast to climb 4.0 percent annually through 2016 to $123.6 billion, according to World Material Handling Products,a new study from The Freedonia Group, Inc., a Cleveland-based industry market research firm. The report states that opportunities will be best for sales of advanced equipment such as automated conveyors and automated guided vehicles, citing automation’s role in labor reduction.
Energy efficient products, such as electric lift trucks, will also see solid gains as end users seek to reduce costs. The rising importance of e-commerce will also fuel demand for automated equipment, as business is increasingly conducted in large, lightly-staffed warehouses.
Among national markets, India and China will see the fastest gains, in large part because of rising manufacturing output that will spur demand for equipment to facilitate distribution and production. West European markets include many of the most intensive users of material handling equipment in the world, because manufacturers in the region have long been among the leaders in adopting automated equipment as a response to high domestic labor costs.
The U.S. market, which accounted for 22 percent of global sales in 2011, is expected to remain the leading consumer through 2016. After a period of sluggish gains between 2006 and 2011, demand in the U.S. will perform better through 2016, bolstered by improved manufacturing conditions, especially in the motor vehicle industry.
Japan and Germany both possess sizeable markets for material handling products, although both have performed poorly compared to the global average in recent years. However, these markets are forecast to post stronger gains.
The U.S., China, Germany, and Japan possess the largest national material handling equipment industries in the world. Despite posting sluggish growth between 2006 and 2011, the U.S. remains the largest global producer of material handling products and is expected to see stronger output increases through 2016 as domestic market conditions improve.
China possesses the second biggest material handling equipment industry and is the largest net exporter of these products. Chinese output has grown well above the global average in recent years, fueled by robust gains in local demand. Germany and Japan possess sizeable trade surpluses in these products, reflecting their large manufacturing sectors.